Beyond Blacksburg: Removing Barriers to Study Abroad
Help Virginia Tech students connect with the world and support their development into globally competent citizens.
This crowdfunding effort raises scholarship funds to support Virginia Tech students in accessing study abroad opportunities, specifically for underrepresented students (students of color, first generation, low socioeconomic status, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+, veterans, student athletes, and STEM majors). Your contribution may mean the difference in whether a student is able to study abroad.
While diversity in study abroad participation has increased in recent years, minority students are still greatly underrepresented. At Virginia Tech less than 10 percent of the overall study abroad participation is comprised of students who identify as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino(a), or Native American or Alaskan Native. In a recent conversation with student at the Black Cultural Center at Virginia Tech, she explained that many of her peers viewed studying abroad as "not for them or not possible."
Reported data* from other underrepresented groups who studied abroad during Academic Year 2017-2018 reflect participation numbers as:
Veteran or military status: 44
Student Athletes: 24
Disability (learning, mental, or physical): 40
* Students are not required to report or self-identify as belonging to an underrepresented group. The numbers reflect what has been reported.
The Global Education Office is putting forth efforts to increase outreach to underrepresented groups in hopes of encouraging greater participation and dispel common myths about study abroad.
By allocating scholarship funds for underrepresented students, our hope is to encourage interest and access to study abroad opportunities among diverse populations of students.
Thank you for your support,
Global Education Office at Virginia Tech
“I wanted to go somewhere else. I wanted to see how much I could continue growing as a person. I loved the connections I made…I usually try to go into study abroad without any expectations because what do you really know about the place. No matter what you hear in the media or see on Twitter or Instagram, the people are what really make a place.” - Katherine Louis from Chesapeake, VA, a junior honors student majoring in Spanish
"I’m from a really small town, right up the street – Roanoke, VA – and literally no one in my family has gone to college or studied abroad, so for me I knew it was a representation of who I wanted to become and also a representation of my family...Not only does study abroad change your perspectives, but it changes the people around you as well, and gives you a way to give back...Ut Prosim.” - Angel Haynes from Roanoke, VA, a sophomore honors student majoring in fashion merchandise and design
"Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I made at Virginia Tech. It allowed me to view parts of the world and meet a variety of people that would not have been possible if I simply visited a city. Being immersed in another part of the world gave me the opportunity to learn and experience other cultures and perspectives on topics that are not discussed in the United States. Once we graduate and start working, most likely there will not be another time in our lives that would allow us to be abroad for an extended period of time. All of my friends who studied abroad agree that it was an amazing decision, and the ones who didn't study abroad regret not going." - Alex Bahrami from Great Falls, VA, a masters student in business administration
Study Abroad Alumni
"I believe my international experience helped to "break the walls", the imaginary walls we feel between people, cultures and countries. I feel comfortable speaking and relating to nearly anyone, even if they have an important position or are from a completely different culture. And I can communicate fluently in English, which is not my first language." - Javiera Bahamond, Class of 2013
"[Studying abroad taught me] empathy for a wide range of perspectives; patience to deal with challenging situations; multicultural understanding to help navigate new situations with grace and kindness; critical thinking capacity from lots of diverse challenges..." - Christopher St. Clair, Class of 2014
Benefits of studying abroad:
Students who return from a study abroad experience often say that they gained so much from the experience. We rarely hear a student express regret for going on a program. Apart from student feedback, research also shows that studying abroad allows opportunities to develop valuable skills and competencies that benefit students not only academically or professionally, but personally, too.
17.8% higher 4-year graduation rate than those who did not study abroad (University System Georgia)
Of students who studied abroad, 90% of respondents got into their first or second choice graduate or professional school (IES Abroad)
Career or professional benefits:
Studies have shown study abroad as having “substantial long-term impact on individuals’ career paths and global engagement,” (SAGE Research Project)
84% of study abroad students say the experience helped develop key job skills such as “adaptability, global understanding and tolerance, leadership, and independence,” (IES Abroad)
Starting salaries were $7,000 higher for those who studied abroad (IES Abroad)
Employers report seeing study abroad as a positive quality on a resume (AIM Overseas)
90% of study abroad alumni found their first job within six months of graduation (IES Abroad)
A survey of 10,0000 hiring managers and CEOs in 116 nations, found that 60% of respondents said they “value an international study experience” (2011 QS Global employer survey)
Study abroad alumni attributed study abroad to increased maturity, self-confidence, and ability to tolerate ambiguity (IES Abroad)
Students who studied abroad showed improvements in five core traits compared to their peers who did not study abroad: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and emotional stability (Friedrich Schiller University, Germany)
Barriers to Studying Abroad
The reasons to study abroad are clear and abundant, but only about 1,400 students of the 34,440 total population at Virginia Tech participated on study abroad programs last year. So why aren't more students taking their education abroad?
One of the most cited barriers to study abroad is costs. While there are cost effective programs, many view study abroad as a guaranteed way to add to already high costs of higher education. Last March, the Global Education Office was notified about a loss of scholarship funding totaling $100,000 that would take affect during Academic Year 2018-2019. The office is now currently exploring other sources for generating scholarship funds such as this crowdfunding effort.
Apart from financial matters, other barriers include academic rigidity, fear, lack of awareness and diversity (NAFSA, Managing Education Abroad: How to Overcome Key Barriers). The Global Education Office has spent the last year identifying the barriers that can stop students from taking part in study abroad programs and has taken steps to address those concerns. Last year, study abroad participation at Virginia Tech had an almost 15% increase.
More information on Virginia Tech's efforts to increase and diversify student study abroad participation
Your donation at this level will help students take the first steps in the study abroad process such as required application fees which can range on average from $25-$150 depending on the specific program.
Your contribution at this level supports students in meeting the financial costs associated with living in a different country and engaging with the people and culture of that community. Costs may include room and board, admission to museums or other historic sites, food and other cultural experiences, and more.
Your contribution at this level supports students with costs related to international flights or transportation within countries. Airline flights for study abroad programs can range from $1,500 to $3,000.
A donation at this level would break a significant barrier for students and would make study abroad much more accessible to a diverse group of students. Program costs vary widely, but on average range from $2,000-$10,000.